comic in sw ahili or sw ahili comic?

of 36/36
AAP 60 (1999) 67-101 COMIC IN SW AHILI OR SW AHILI COMIC? ROSE MARIE BECK Intr·oduction As a subject of scientific interest ,Western" comics (ie. the European, American, Japanese comics) have after all achieved some recognition From its beginnings in the 1890s the comic has been an economic success, and gradually gained importance in the contemporary cultural production of ,Western" societies .. However, only with a development that finally met the tastes of a , Western" intellectual readership, scientific treatment of comics became academically acceptable. Albeit still somewhat marginal and looked down upon a bit, studies on comics gain in quality, and do no longer waste time and energy in preambles 1 Compared to the Western market, the production of comics in Africa is negligeable, and therefore its scientific reception almost nonexistent 2 This article, however preliminary, 3 for the first time takes interest in an Afiican comic, specifically the comics in Swahili, as a subject of its own Iight 4 Under the guise of discussing the question given in the title on two levels, I intend to present as much material as possible (without stretching copy- rights too fiu), 5 to give a short introduction to the theory of the comic, and to raise the reader's interest for the Swahili comic. 1 Probably this is a specifically German discourse, eg Krafft 1978, HOning 1974 (both: introduction), Kagelmann 1991:47ff The difficulties to accept the comic as an aesthetic expression, leave alone an art form is often expressed, and discussed until today (see for example GrOnewald 1991, Strobe! 1993; in the Anglosaxon context e.g Faust 1971, critically discussed in Abbort 1986: !55) The main arguments that are put forth in defense of one's interests are pedagogical (how bad/good the comics are for kids), sociological (who reads comics and why, imposing a ,view ftom below"), rarely personal (how much I am interested in comics) I find problematic that scientific legitimation becomes unnecessary only with the aesthetic recognition of the comic by a ,.Western"· intellectual readership (that I consider to be at the core of cultural discourses) 2 Lent's bibliography, one of the most renowned reference works, contains- albeit uncomplete- 16 pages on Africa, including Northern and Subsaharan Aftica (1996:1-16). Andreas Knigge, one of Germany's best informed comic-lecturer (at Hamburg: Carlsen) is able to fill exactly half a one column) in his last book on comics (! 996:238) For titles not contained in Lent ( 1996) see my bibliographic appendix 3 I did not have the opportunity to conduct research in East Aftica (Dar es Salaam, Nairobi) on the topic of comics However. my bookshelf contains about half a meter of Swahili comics, which I take as material basis for this article, plus some scattered discussions and interviews with artists and readers Earlier versions of this paper were held at a workshop in Naples, I April 1998. and at the Afrikanistentag in Cologne, 19-21 Sept 1994 (Beck 1994). This article is further influenced by the many enlightening discussions on the topic with Fritz Serzisko and the students of the course we held at the lnstitut fur Sprachwissenschaft at the University of Cologne in 1997 Many thanks also to Werner Graebner and Thomas Geider for ftiendship, encouragement and practical help 4 Most articles that feature comics, are interested in historical, narratological, linguist, mass- media etc aspects, but not in the comic as a comic. An exception may be Mbembe 1996, 1997 The Swahili comic has been mentioned very rarely, eg Graebner 1994, Gikonyo 1986 5 All copyrights remain with the artists/authors

Post on 01-Jan-2017

307 views

Category:

Documents

7 download

Embed Size (px)

TRANSCRIPT

  • AAP 60 (1999) 67-101

    COMIC IN SW AHILI OR SW AHILI COMIC?

    ROSE MARIE BECK

    Introduction

    As a subject of scientific interest ,Western" comics (ie. the European, American, Japanese

    comics) have after all achieved some recognition From its beginnings in the 1890s the comic

    has been an economic success, and gradually gained importance in the contemporary cultural

    production of ,Western" societies .. However, only with a development that finally met the

    tastes of a , Western" intellectual readership, scientific treatment of comics became

    academically acceptable. Albeit still somewhat marginal and looked down upon a bit, studies

    on comics gain in quality, and do no longer waste time and energy in self~defensive

    preambles1 Compared to the Western market, the production of comics in Africa is

    negligeable, and therefore its scientific reception almost nonexistent2 This article, however

    preliminary,3 for the first time takes interest in an Afiican comic, specifically the comics in

    Swahili, as a subject of its own Iight4 Under the guise of discussing the question given in the

    title on two levels, I intend to present as much material as possible (without stretching copy-

    rights too fiu), 5 to give a short introduction to the theory of the comic, and to raise the reader's

    interest for the Swahili comic.

    1 Probably this is a specifically German discourse, eg Krafft 1978, HOning 1974 (both: introduction), Kagelmann 1991:47ff The difficulties to accept the comic as an aesthetic expression, leave alone an art form

    is often expressed, and discussed until today (see for example GrOnewald 1991, Strobe! 1993; in the Anglosaxon context e.g Faust 1971, critically discussed in Abbort 1986: !55) The main arguments that are put forth in defense of one's interests are pedagogical (how bad/good the comics are for kids), sociological (who reads comics and why, imposing a ,view ftom below"), rarely personal (how much I am interested in comics) I find problematic that scientific legitimation becomes unnecessary only with the aesthetic recognition of the comic by a ,.Western" intellectual readership (that I consider to be at the core of cultural discourses) 2 Lent's bibliography, one of the most renowned reference works, contains- albeit uncomplete- 16 pages on Africa, including Northern and Subsaharan Aftica (1996:1-16). Andreas Knigge, one of Germany's best informed comic-lecturer (at Hamburg: Carlsen) is able to fill exactly half a page(~ one column) in his last book on comics (! 996:238) For titles not contained in Lent ( 1996) see my bibliographic appendix

    3 I did not have the opportunity to conduct research in East Aftica (Dar es Salaam, Nairobi) on the topic of

    comics However. my bookshelf contains about half a meter of Swahili comics, which I take as material basis for this article, plus some scattered discussions and interviews with artists and readers Earlier versions of this paper were held at a workshop in Naples, I April 1998. and at the Afrikanistentag in Cologne, 19-21 Sept

    1994 (Beck 1994). This article is further influenced by the many enlightening discussions on the topic with Fritz Serzisko and the students of the course we held at the lnstitut fur Sprachwissenschaft at the University of Cologne in 1997 Many thanks also to Werner Graebner and Thomas Geider for ftiendship, encouragement

    and practical help

    4 Most articles that feature comics, are interested in historical, narratological, linguist, popular~culture, mass-media etc aspects, but not in the comic as a comic. An exception may be Mbembe 1996, 1997 The Swahili comic has been mentioned very rarely, eg Graebner 1994, Gikonyo 1986

    5 All copyrights remain with the artists/authors

  • 68 ROSE MARIE BECK

    The first level of discussion focuses on a global perspective Here I take a more theoretical

    stance, concentrating on the comic as a nanative medium, reflecting its inventory of

    representation and questions of reading The Swahili comic is considered before the

    background of a ,Western" comic. My main question is: What does the Swahili comic do that

    other comics do as well? The second level focuses on the local perspective I look at the

    setting in which the comic occurs, i.e .. Swahili-speaking, urban East Afiica, and take into

    consideration the cultural embedding of the medium: What can the comic do in East Africa

    that other media or gemes of cultural expression (music, tv, literature, painting, theatre, etc.)

    do not or can not do? What is new about the comic in East Africa?

    A very short and mther incomplete history

    The comic must have reached East Africa quite early. Around 1907 the comic strip had

    conquered a fixed space in the European and American newspapers, scarcely a decade after its

    .,invention" 6 In East Africa the first colonial newspaper - The Standard - was started in

    Mombasa in 1902 (Gikonyo 1986: 186}. However, for a long time, the strips were imported

    from the big newspaper syndicates and were not locally produced. Among the most important

    strips. that are featured until today, were and are Andy Capp, Eb and Flo, Popeye, Hagar

    the Terrible. as well as series such as Modesty Blaise, Flash Gordon and Donald Duck In

    1973 one of the first leisure magazines, Joe (a figure invented by Hilary Ng'weno and

    illustrated by Terry Hirst for the Daily Nation, cf Frederiksen 1991:136), featured the first

    locally drawn comics by Edward G Gitau (ibid.:140). Edward Gitau is the creator of juha

    Kalulu, for which he is still well known until today (ibid :140-142) According to Gitau

    himself, he started drawing comics as early as the 1950s 7 It is about fiom the 1980s onwards

    only that I would speak of an emerging East Afiican comic scene with such prominent artists

    as the Ugandan James Tumusiime (Bogi Benda, see Fig. I), Philip Ndunguru

    (Ndumilakuwili/Kazibure) or David Kyungu (diverse, mostly cartoons}

    Gikonyo writes in his survey of Kenyan comics about the first really successful comic

    figure, Bogi Benda:

    6 It is generally agreed upon that the ,firsc comics - stories told by a sequence of pictures and published in

    the print media- were introduced around the 1890s. The first comic figure that spoke from within the panel

    (in contrast to figures that were cited below the picture. as, for instance, with Rudolphe Topffer or Wilhelm

    Busch) was ,Mickey Dugan' from the series ,At the Circus in Hogan's Ally", later and better known as the

    .. Yellow Kid""'", drawn by Robert Outcault, printed in the New York er Sunday World (Knigge 1993: 16f,

    Zehnder 1996: 12f/239 Havas & Habarta 1993:28). Other well known early strips were the ,Katzenjammer

    Kids" by Rudolph Dirks .. and , Little Nemo" by Winsor McCay Scott McCioud, in accordance with most

    historians of the comic .. counts among the important forerunners of the comic Egyptian hieroglyphs, Pre-

    Columbian picture manuscripts, the Bayeux tapestry (England 11th century), medieval religious painting like

    .. .The Tortures of Saint Erasmus (15th century), the paintings of William Hogarth (1697-1764), the

    ... Bildergeschichten of Rudolphe Topffer (beginning of the 19th century) (McCioud 1992:1 0-17). Other

    important forerunners were political-satirical weekly magazines like the ,Fliegende Bltitter', ,.Le Charivari'',

    , .. Punch'' all European products (Knigge 1993:15) From ea 1907 the comic had conquered an

    institutionalized space in almost all important daily newspapers in Europe and America (Knigge 1993:35)

    lJntervie" of the author with Edward G Gitau, Nairobi. 24 May 1996

  • COMIC IN SWAHILI OR SWAHILI COMIC?

    ,Probably the most exciting local cartoon strip (judging by the reaction of the readers in the letters to the editor), is ,Bogi Benda", which featured in the Daily Nation between September I, 1981, and September 30, 1982 The Nairobi Times then took over ,Bogi Benda" in October 1982 .. This cartoon strip is the creation of a Ugandan agricultural economist turned journalist, James Tumusiime .. When it first appeared, ,Bogi Benda" became a topic of discussion among the readers in the letters to the editor. Among other things, these discussions probably pointed out the readers' interest in indigenious cartoons and cartoon strips and in the process served to encourage newspapers to feature more local cartoons and cartoon strips . When the Daily Nation discontinued ,Flook", the editor had this explanation, ,Sony, but Flook died of a heart attack at the end of August He could not stand Kenya's climate .. 'Andy Capp' has moved to another part of

    the paper and 'Bogi Benda', a local, took his rightful place on this page'" (Gikonyo 1986: 1989-190)

    Fig I. Bogi Benda, Iumusiime n d

    AND 5P.Nl> IT Wi$1-Y ON WON16N AN[) E>OOz

    69

    Although Nairobi today has quite a number of interesting comic artists, for instance the

    internationally renowned Gado (Godfrey Mwampembwa), a Tanzanian artist who draws the

    political comments for the Daily Nation, Edward G Gitau (Juha Kalulu), Mado (I om

    Kelemba .. political cartoons for The Standard). Frank Odoi (from Ghana, Radi for The

    Standard), or Lawrence Akapa (with Chicken n' Chips for The Standard), most of the comic

    scene is situated in Dar es Salaam It is obvious, that the comic scene in I anzania is more

    lively., more productive, but also that it is easier to find a publisher in Kenya. Quite a number

    of Kenyan artists were actually I anzanian, like Gado, Paul Kelembwa, and Philip Ndunguru.

    While in Nairobi the comics are produced in both English and Swahili, in Dares Salaam three

    decades of independent language policy and great difficulties to import expensive syndicated

    materials have given rise to a strong independent comic scene that produces exclusively for

    the local newspapers and magazines .. Especially after 1992 with the political and economic

    changes., an increasing number of magazines appeared, which feature not only comic strips,

    but also longer comics, horoscopes, (written) short stories as well as political (cartoon)

    comments

    The oldest. and until today most renowned magazine is Sani (Amri M.. Bawji, having

    appeared in almost 60 issues since the 1980s).. further Bongo (Sabbi L Msanja, John Kaduma)

    and Kingo (lames Gayo), others are Msanii (Nathan Lwehabura, Oscar Makoye), Tabasamu

  • 70 ROSE MARIE BECK

    (Daudi Masasi, John Kaduma), Meka (Ayoub Rioba), etc Also, a number of independent

    mtists publish in vmious magazines: Noah Yongolo (Kingo, Mzalendo, Burudani), Robert

    Mwampembwa (Kingo), Mohamed Mussa Kassam (Bata King), John Kaduma (Sani, Bongo),

    Cluis Katembo (Sani).

    All these mtists, as well as the East Afiican comic artists in general, are, to my knowledge,

    autodidacts and very inventive The influence of European, American or Japanese comics

    other than daily newspaper strips (i e internationally syndicated material) seems to be rather

    small. Several reasons play a role, most importantly that albums and collections of comics are

    almost inaccessible in Eastern Afiica for lack of market, money and means The situation is

    changing rapidly, with growing interest from ,the West", artists being invited to publish

    globally or receiving scholarships to go to Europe and the Americas. The interests and

    possibilities to finally make a living out of one's artwork on the one hand, and the

    agressivness and the normative pressure of international syndicates and publishers on the other

    make me curious about the futme of the East African comic scene

    A comparative perspective

    A comparative perspective requires a common theoretical fiamework that is agreed upon to be

    valid for all phenomena considered to be a comic' While literatme on the history and the

    many genres of comics abound, there have been few attempts at presenting an integiated

    theory The greatest difficulty of comic theory is the necessity of an interdisciplinary and

    intermethodic approach. According to their backgrounds, authors focus on the verbal aspects

    (eg Krafft 1978: linguistics, Barbieri 1995: semiotics, Ludwig 1978: folklorist perspective),

    or on the visual aspects ( eg .. Hmvey !996, Hofinann 1970), or they reduce their interest in the

    comic to sociological aspects (eg. Fuchs & Reitberger 1971, Drechsel, Funhoff & Hoffmann

    1975, Faust 1971) Interesting theoretical reflections have evolved from comic .mtists

    themselves, namely Will Eisner (1985, 1996) and Scott McCloud (1993 ), or Benoit Peelers

    (1993), !an Baetens & Pascal Lefevre (1993) fiom the Belgian schooJ8 Almost every

    statement on 'the comic in general' can be disputed with a heavy 'but' .. This has not solely to

    do with a lack of theoretical background, but, in my opinion, with one of the most striking and

    interesting aspects of the comic: The interplay of the visual and the verbal allows for an

    immense variability and constant innovation that has lead to a tendency to produce infinite

    levels of (self~ )comment and metadiscomse

    Interestingly, fiom the diverse points of view we can glean something like a working

    definition of the comic, on which the authors may generally agree:

    The comic is a medium in which a narrator narrates a ltory to his readers by using a (more

    or less) fixed sequence of units that consist of both pictorial and linguistic elements The

    8 I rake the Francophone theorisrs only marginally into account Important names are here Thierry Groensteen

    (Belgium) .. Pierre Fresnault-Deruelle (Paris/Lyon). and the publication , Cahiers de la bande dessinee".

    appearing in Lyon

  • COMIC IN SW AHILI OR SW AHILI COMIC? 71

    comic represents or constructs a universe that exists solely in the two dimensional space of

    paper and ink, and compensates this reduction to silence and immobility with the invention of

    specific structural and expressive means, for instance a synthesis ofthe visual and the verbal,

    panels, speechbubbles, soundwords, speedlines and the semi-arbitrary representation of

    metaphors 9 As a result we are confronted with a medium that must be read according to its

    own rules, which should be recognized as a specific form ofliteracy

    In the following I will illustrate five aspects of the comic: I) reading the comic, 2)

    sequence, 3) basic units, 4) soundwords as an example of comic-specific means and 5)

    narration I start from a general discussion, and then try to see how the comic from East Africa

    fits in.

    Reading the comic

    Probably it is most illustrative to start with the question of reading a comic. From an

    ontological standpoint it has been said that whatever we perceive, we never perceive it fully

    We are therefore forced to complete what is missing, or remains unsaid, unshown on the

    background of a) what we have perceived and b) our knowledge of 'the world'. For instance,

    of a cubus we are only able to perceive visually three sides, but fiom om experience we know

    and automatically infer that it has three other sides This operation has received attention from

    philosophers, literary theorists ( eg. Iser 1975, 'Schliellung' /'closure'), and textlinguists ( eg

    Dressier & de Beaugrande 1981:9, 'Inferenzziehtmg' /inference) It is no doubt plausible that

    we infer knowledge when reading, for instance, a book Who has not experienced

    disappointment at watching the film-adaption of a literary work, where the characters do not

    look at all how we imagined them in the privacy of our reading?

    For the comic Scott McCloud has described this by the means of the comrc itself (see

    Fig.2) He explains, that inference- in his term 'closure' -happens between the panels It is,

    what he he amicably calls the ,blood in the gutter" that is understood to flow even if it is not

    shown by the artist

    9 A semi-arbitrary representation of a metaphor would, fOr instance. be a light bulb over the head of someone to indicate that he 'was enlightened', had an idea 1he metaphor here is represented iconically, i.e the signifyer has a relationship to the signified based OIJ re5ernblance The metaphor, however, has an indexical relationship to the signified, to have an idea: The light shining in one's eyes (to exaggerate the metaphor) relel s to the internal, usually invisible process of having an idea In the comic the detour via the verbal metaphor has become superfluous by the establishment of the characteristic code ofvisual metaphor With the term., semi-arbitrary representation .. I try to reflect the verbal origin of the visual metaphor, of the character of the metaphor. as well as its membership iri the visual code For a short and concise introduction to the semiotic terms of icon. symbol and index see Epskamp 1984

  • 72 ROSE MARlE BECK

    I MAY l-lAVE DRAWN AN AXE BEING ,RAISEO IN THIS EXAMPlE, BUT I'M NOT THE ONE 'NHO LET JT PROP

    01( DECIDED HOW HA!?D THE SLOv.,t OR WHO SCREAMED, OR' JIVIIY.

    TJIAT- DEAR READER, WAS YOUK .SPCC'!Al CRIME, EACH OF YOU

    COMMITTING JT IN YOUR OWN .STn.e.

    Fig 2 ,In the gutter", Scott McCloud 1993:66

    McCloud (or rather his comic-ego) goes on:

    ,. See that space between the panels~ That's what comics aficionados have named , the gutter"'. And despite its unceremonious title, the gutter plays host to much of the magic and my5/ery that me at the very heart of comics! Here in the limbo of the gutter, human imagination takes two separate images and transforms them into a single idea." (McCloud 1993:67, his emphasis)

    McCloud proposes a number of different kinds of ,gutters', accmding to the amount of

    information that has to be inferred to understand the passage fiom one panel to the other. He

    further maintains that Japanese comics differ fiom European or fiom American Comics in

    their use of the gutters This is a first aspect we would have to consider when compming

    Swahili comics with other comics Unfortunately his gutter-categories are far fiom clearly

    discernible Discussions during a course at the University of Leiden in fall 1996 lead to a first

    observation that the Swahili comic uses less descriptive but more action-oriented sequences10

    10 I gratefully acknowledge the discussions with the participants of the course Maud Devos. Thomas Gesthuizen. Maurice Keane .. Bart van Loon. Victoria Nyst., Noor de Rood Hertoge: as well as further valuable suggestions and information on the topic from Prof. Thilo Schadeberg., Dr Maarten Mous and especially Prof Y M Kihore. at the times visiting Leiden fiom the T aasisi. Oar es Salaam ..

  • COMIC IN SW AHILI OR SW AHILI COMIC? 73

    Sequence/Seqentiality

    This is a basic defining criterion for the comic The notion of sequence discems the cartoon from the comic (cf Eisner 1984, McC!oud 1993:5-9) The cartoon tells a story taking the space of one panel, while the comic uses a sequence of at least two panels to do so All authors agree on this criterion How to describe, then, the way the sequence is organized? It may be useful here, to draw on textlinguistic notions of cohesion and coherence In accordance with Dressier/de Beaugrande (1981) I take cohesion as the surface-level interdependence of [linguistic] elements that refer to each other according to mles characteristic of a code .. Coherence then, secures the relation of the represented to what it represents In other words, the comic uses signs that sequentially recur in panels, across a number of panels, allowing fm breaks in the chain of recurrence. At the same time these signs must be visually similar in such a way that the relation between the signifier and the signified remains stable

    LA KAMA VINALIKA ~=======u upe~OLGO f,(ATtJ

  • 74 ROSE MARIE BECK

    Fig 3. Kula kama vinalika, Mpangalla & Mhilu 1994: 11.15

    Illustrative for the topic of cohesion and coherence is the comic shown in Fig 3 It is taken

    flom a story on a domesitc dispute by Julius Mhilu (story) and Nathan Mpangalla (illustration)

    (Kingo 003. Agosti-Septemba 1994: 11-15) illustrates this The Bi Mkubwa, the main wife,

    who is neglected by her husband in favor of his mistress, is characterized througout the story

  • COMIC IN SW AHILI OR SW AHILI COMIC? 75

    with a certain hairstyle, expression of face and dress (kanga), a chruacteiization that maintains

    coherence and cohesion, although she in persona does not apperu in every panel The

    Memsapu, the mistress, in the example appearing only once in the second panel of the first

    page, has a different hairstyle and way of dressing I have included here the first and last page

    of the comic

    J'.UT()f:A Bf.f'JOVK-1 ~ K.f) -1VKCiM(i.A rCWT;(IH(j ()KI/NGfJ ~ t\.!,.:::O,c;#W'C?t::? y~ SUo::'\ A'IAIIEt=G ~I'::: IN/ MWCNY6 /olllCHE M!WftA YA ~1-/.CJ..BIJ ~ M.tf..Tt}N/1.1 ""7'.A

    ~~1;.

    Fig. 4 Haki ifanyike, Frank Odoi 1996: 20

    Interestingly .. however, the comic has to establish at first its signs, since not every 'thing

    represented in the comic can be taken as a sign In this sense Krafft introduced a hierruchical

    system of signs, to which he attributed different functions: ,Raumzeichen (background) and

    ,Handlungszeichen'' (signs attributed to action, foreground) Of importance for the

  • 76 ROSE MARIE BECK

    differentiation between signs and comic-signs is the aspect of internal reference (paralleling

    the notion of cohesion) Only the signs relevant to the stmy (i .e mostly, but not necessarily

    attributed to action) are seen as comic-signs, because they are crucial for the development of

    the stmy In the example above (Fig .. 4) about avenge and self~justice, set into the context of

    the Biafla-war by Frank Odoi, the gun of the soldier, as well as the soldier himself are

    constituted as comic-signs, while much of the landscape around them is not. While the gun,

    formerly used to kill, here used to dig a hole to hide some bars of gold, is finally discarded and

    thus symbolizes the end of the war for this soldier, the tree and the stone serve solely as

    background into which this episode is visually set:

    In contrast to the ,Western" comic, the East African comrc does not play with this

    fundamental rule of cohesion and coherence

    The basic units of the comic panel and speech-bubble

    The speech-bubble has no forerunners, but is an original invention of the comic (Krafft

    1978:82) It is a sign based on convention (whereas other signs are based on

    resemblance/iconicity) The speech-bubble has no 'meaning' by itself; but a twofold function:

    a) it distinguishes a certain part of a panel from the rest and b) it assigns this part to a certain

    pictorial element within the panel by means of an anow-like element (K.rafft 1978:82) It is

    not independent, but always occurs in the context of a pictorial element Furthermore it carmot

    form a chain of reference of its own. or, in the sense mentioned above, become a comic-sign

    based on cohesion (though it might produce cohesion, it exists independently from it) The

    same features apply to the panel-border.11

    It is interesting to note, that generally speech-bubble and panel-border are closely related. It

    has become part of the comic-code for their functions to overlap, for instance when someone

    is telling a story in the comic, or someone is dreaming, i .e opening up another narrative level

    in the comic altogether Then the panel has no longer square but round borders. thus it implies

    someone speaking (Krafft 1978:85ff)

    11 Here I have to concede that we probably have to speak about the space, the blank. that is assigned to a panel as the element with morphemic features Comic-lexemes have the features: Iexematic (vs functional),

    motivated (vs conventional) independent (vs dependent) and referencing (vs. not referencing) (Krafft

    1971:83)

  • COMIC IN SW AHILI OR SW AHILI COMIC~ 77

    V

    ~\-~~-\ - "'\-v'\

    ~t ~~.:_ ' '=,

    14

    Fig. 5 A{ro A2 .. Katti-ka-Batembo (1988): 14

    The comic Afro A2 (Fig 5) shows quite an unusual interpretation of the relationship

    between speech bubble and panel However, it is perfectly understandable. Note that the

    audience .. to which Blaza tells the story of a mentally disturbed girl and how she got sick,

    appears flom behind the first panel on the page (i e the story). The zig-zagged panel border

    resembles the ,tail" of a speech bubble that points at the speaker. Finally Blaza reappears in

    the last paneL speaking with a square speech bubble, that resembles the block-comments

    usually placed at the top or bottom border of a panel. The story thus is reinstalled again, the

    storyteller disappears again behind the panels and is restored only in the comments .. The levels

    of the story are not consequently differentiated .. The audience reappearing in the first line flom

    behind the first panel are put into a panel in the second line. It is also unclear who the girl is

    that speaks in the second paneL second line .. and why. From the point ofview of nanation I

    see no difficulty to consider this as audience-participation However, from the point ofview of

  • 78 ROSE MARIE BECK

    panel-fmm/speech-bubble-fmm and the transition between the two levels of the story, it is not

    The girl appears in the previous panel (I st panel, 2nd line) as pait of the audience This is, by

    the way, the only example of a backflash I found in the Swahili comic Apart from very few

    examples, the Swahili comic does not fully exploit the possibilities of panel and speech

    bubble.

    Ihe material character of signs with special reference to sound-words

    I have mentioned in my definition of the comic, that it takes place in the silent and immobile

    two - dimensional space of paper and ink. But the reduction to this space has consequences

    insofar as everything we know of the world outside the comic (and be it in our imagination)

    reappears in the comic as representation 'only' Scott McCloud demonstrates this with an

    intriguing interpretation of Magritte's ,Ceci n'est pas une pipe" (McCloud 1993:24-25)

    According to McCloud, the painting of a pipe is, indeed, not a pipe (This insight somehow

    ruins the joke of the painting).

    Fig 6 ,Ceci n'est pas une pipe", Scott McCloud 1994: 25.

    He goes on to explain that what we see on pgs 24 to 25 are ten printed copies of a drawing of

    a painting of a pipe. It is tremendously interesting to see how he uses the comic to demonstrate

    its abilities to represent the world'. In the last two panels he - pardon, the printed copy of a

    drawing of himself - comments on the fact that when reading a comic, we do not hear

    anything. but are even able to see sound and movement:

    The materiality ofthe signifier vs the immateriality of the signified is conspicous especially

    for the representation of movement and sound, that in 'real life' appear to be fleeting and

    momentaneous The comic plays on this tension between the fleeting and the material and thus

    provides the means to compensate the immobility and silence of exclusively visual

  • COMIC IN SW AHILI OR SW AHILI COMIC? 79

    representation I intend to illustrate this with the soundwords Soundwords are given a graphic

    space in the paneL This is a unique development for the comic, while we could argue that

    speedlines are merely ,adapted" from the film to the comic.

    It is important to note that these soundwords occur in the most cases within the panel, but

    are not part of a speech-bubble This probably reflects the impression, that they are not

    conceived of as 'true' pruts of a language, and in fact the linguists tell us, that they rue only

    marginally prut of a linguist system. In the universe of the comic sound-words rue assigned

    space within the panel and thus attain both the chruacter of a thing and of sound/language In

    the following example (fiom the Senegal) Mohiss, the rutist, has reflected on this See the

    sound of the car, as it hrumonizes with the vision of dust (Fig. 7):

    Fig.7 Mohiss n .. d

    The Swahili comic certainly uses soundwords. Sometimes they are flom an international

    inventruy of (mostly English) soundwords, sometimes taken flom Swahili ideophones and

    onomatopoei Look at the following examples taken from a kick-boxing match between

    Betina and Zena that uses only soundwords taken fiom Swahili:

  • 80 ROSE MARIE BECK

    Fig 8. Pambano ya kick boxing kati ya Betina na Zena, Bawji, Katembo & Kaduma

    n d. [ea. 1995]:5-8.

    The comic also plays on orthographic conventions In the representation of language we

    find many ways to materialize expressive characteristics of speech, like volume, stress,

    stuttering .. accents etc. In the following Paul Kelemba interprets a Somali-person speaking

    Swahili, Mpangalla & Mhilu an Indian merchant, and Nathan Mpangalla mocks Jamaican

    English (Fig. 9). Apart fiom such materializations the texts in the comics generally only

    'pretend' to be spoken, but are in fact strongly oriented toward the respective written

    standards

  • COMIC IN SW AHILI OR SW AHILI COMIC? 81

    PIS GELZ Dt::IA NOT KO tu l Ml . .

    Fig. 9. Paul Kelemba 1996: 11; Mpangalla & Mhi1u 1994: 13; Yongolo 1994:7

    Narration

    I have, so fin, not said anything about narration, the way sequences are fcnmed to tell a story,

    time and space management, etc. Difierent gemes require different means of nanation .. An

    adventure comic, a comic longer than a few panels, relies more on a balance between

    foregrounded and backgrounded elements/panels, or needs special effects to dramatize the

    story The Swahili comic, for instance, uses mainly camera-movements, changes of

    perspective, a conscious use of panel organization and panel size, and colour contrast (here:

    black-and-white) So called funnies or gag-strips rely much more on punch lines or punch

    panels .. allow less variation in panel size or panel arrangement and use no backgrounded

    panels at all Story-telling here is straightforward: foregrounded, very little camera movements

    or contrasting elements In the case of Swahili funnies they rely on an interplay between the

    visual and the verbal The following example features Kazibure, taken from Philip

  • 82 ROSE MARIE BECK

    Ndunguru's work 12 He jokes about the linguistic proficiency of coastal Swahili people, much

    admired - and despised - by people flom up-country Kenya Both, the man fiom the coast and

    Kazibure (representing the up-country Kenyan), enjoy each other's limits: Kazibure's limits to

    understand Swahili, and the Muslim-Swahili's limits to produce anything else than elaborate

    (but scarcely context-adequate) proverbs. At the same time each of them does not seem to be

    aware of the enjoyment the other has at his expense (look at their faces!):

    Fig 10 Kazibure, Philip Ndunguru 1986

    The next three examples show three different kinds of dramatization of showdowns tne

    first, taken from a comic on AIDS, by lames Gayo, extensively uses camera-movent, and a

    dramatic change ofperspective (from inside the house to the speakers outside .. and back) (Fig

    I I)

    12 My thanks to Werner Graebner for sharing this joke- and Philip Ndunguru's work- with me

  • COMIC IN SW AHILI OR SW AHILI COMIC? 83

    Fig 11 Nyumba ndogo, James Gayo 1994:9.

    The second showdown, a true showdown between two soldiers after the Biafia war, the one allegedly killed by the other for greed of gold, but surviving and desperate to avenge the

    betrayal, shows stark contrasts and extreme camera movements (Fig. 12)

  • 84 ROSE MARIE BECK

    KIN GO MARCH. 1996 23

    Fig. 12 Haki ifanyike, Frank Odoi 1996:23.

    The third example (Fig 13) uses a lot of culturally specific elements of dramatization. It is

    taken from Kula kama vinalika (see above), from the scene where the main wife provokes a

    public scandal as a way to call upon the neighborhood to settle their domestic dispute .. The

    climax of the story is preceded by a panel with a completely black background (first line, 3rd

    panel), where the contents of the platter (2nd line, 2nd panel) are announced by the writing on

    the kawa: F unua ule - ,open that one ( .. and see") The climax, in my opinion, is not yet

    reached with the next panel, where the men exclaim in reverse-coloured houor, but when we

    see the (unprepared) food, unexpectedly and blasphemically staring at the reader Again we

    find the use of contrast, in this unusual case reaching as fin as the speech-bubbles to express

  • COMIC IN SW AHILI OR SW AHILI COMIC? 85

    the honor of the figures within the comic. With the inscription on the food-lid and the

    'staring' food the artist establishes a level that reflects on the reception of the comic, and

    makes explicit a level of communication between the comic/the artist and the reader

    Fig. 13.. Kula kama vinalika, Mpangalla & Mhilu 1994: 14.

    The last example I use to illustrate a comic in which the artist elaborates at length on the

    topic of being blue and getting drunk, making distinct use of language (very little), inking

    technique (ink and water), varying panel sizes including camera movements, and a frequent

    transgression ofpanel borders to establish the specific atmosphere JJ Look at lovesick Beni:

    13 Without having proof or the author's opinion, I suggest that this comic may be stylistically more influenced

    by Italian and French comics than others Certainly the comic was an experiment The story designed as a

    series. was discontinued after two issues

  • 86 ROSE MARIE BECK

    Fig 14 Binti wa usiku, Paul Ndunguru 1994:11

    There are many more aspects of the comic I have not mentioned here; and I have only

    cursorily covered some principles I consider crucial. From the discussion here I draw that

    though the comic in Swahili uses all the means the medium has at its disposal, it does not

    exploit its possibilities At closer inspection., however, we can discern certain properties of the

    Swahili comic: Its main interest is to tell a story straightforward; it has tendency to foreground

    the stories .. and it has a specific use of dramatizing elements. It elaborates on word play with a

  • COMIC IN SW AH!Ll OR SW AHILI COMIC? 87

    focus on ideophonic and onomatopoetic soundwm ds and an interest in accents, dialects and

    sociolects The variety of stories increases, as well as the use of the possibilities of the

    medium. At this stage I can not say anything conclusive about these comics, except that it is a

    medium very much alive and changing very fast

    Fig 15 .. Frontpage of Kingo, No 7 .. 1996 .. by James Gayo

  • 88 ROSE MARIE BECK

    The cultural embedding of the comic

    It is absolutely clear to me that the Swahili comic, apart fiom being funny and entertaining,

    discusses political and social issues .. I can only skim this subject, though (Future resemch

    being the keyword here) A non-didactic 14 comic on AIDS (Gayo 1994, see Fig 11), another

    on domestic problems (Figs .. 3, 13), veiled references to the elections (Bawji, Katembo &

    Kaduma n d .. [ea 1995], Fig 8), not so veiled references to the behavim of politicians (Gayo

    1996 in Kin go 7:4-7) are but the most obvious examples .. Look at Fig 15 above, the fiont page

    of Kingo: Nyerere points his regent's scepter to the right, indicating the direction he wishes

    the car (the state?) to take Mkapa, however, has put the tum signal on the cm to the left

    Kingo, in the back, motioning the car to go on, but where to?

    The trickster as an urban survivor

    From such a prelimimmy point of view as mine it is probably easiest to explain the affinity

    between the trickster of the mal tales and a certain kind of comic-hero from the funny, 15

    namely the urban survivor ( cf Beck 1994) He is a scrounger, apparently a lazybone, a

    drunkard, a womanizer, a sly fox (!), with or without family, mostly lacking money but not

    thirst, mostly interested to get the former in mder to still the latter

    In some of the figures I recognize Andy Capp, visually and stmywise. Probably Andy

    Capp even has to be seen as at the very roots of the Swahili comic I observe common visual

    traits of some East and Southeast African urban survivors with Andy Capp, but I believe that

    Andy Capp himself is as much m ban survivor, a British kind of modem trickster, as me his

    buddies in East Afiica. Andy Capp is one of the worldwide best known funnies (Havas &

    Havmta 1993: 169), i e .. syndicated all over the world .. He was created by Reggie Smythe, a

    Y mkshirean with a working class background, like his figure16 Andy Capp is not very old, it

    was first published in 1957 in the Daily Mirror (England). In her dictionary Alessandrini

    describes him as follows:

    ,Casquette rabattue sur les yeux, megot aux levres, Andy Capp est une sorte de bon a rien paresseux, alcoolique et joueur, qui passe son temps sur le terrain de football ou au

    pub du coin. dont il courtise assidfunent la barmaid. L{)!sque ses viu~es le ramenent chez

    lui, il en profite pour insulter et battre sa femme, sans doute pour la remercier

    d'entretenir le ch6meur chronique qu'il se plait a etre .. Flo, l'epouse en question, n'est d ailleurs pas en rested injures et d'hmizons, et tous deux ne manquent pas de presenter

    11 I use this term here rather polemically.. ,.,Didactic in this context refers to comics with a moralist undertone

    often containing a religious sub-text Since they are ill adapted from the point of view of story-telling by

    comic .. if not amateurish or outright badly done, they are not attractive to local readers of comics Examples of

    such comics are worldwide syndicated Bible stories, locally translated by the respective Bible Society, or a

    comic on AIDS, ... Mitego ya Anasa Ajali ya Bw Pande'', story by Dr K Fleischer (!). illustration by H

    Likonde. 1992 Tanzania: Ndanda Mission Press

    15 Funn) is a technical term used fOr a specific genre of comic. namely one that is short (usually a three

    panel-strip) and contains a pointe

    16 According to Havas & Habarta (1993: 169) the name Andy Capp is a pun, playing on (social) handicap

    The comic shows a double pun, one with the 'handicap' .. the other at the characteristic cap of Andy's

  • COMIC IN SW AHILI OR SW AHILI COMIC?

    un front um a I' ennemi commun, policier, percepteur ou importuns divers .. "

    (Alessandrini 1978:207).

    89

    The presence of Andy Capp in colonial newspapers and later in newspapers in English

    language has been confirmed by Waithira Gikonyo (1986:189), as well as by Thomas 0

    McLoughlin in his article on Zimbabwean comic strips (1989:220) On the level of the stories

    Bogi Benda could be his buddy: Hanging around in bars, treating his wife badly, but

    summoning on her when there is a need to defend their common grounds .. The similar punch-

    lines might be both a reference to Andy Capp or owed to the geme (funny, gag-strip). There

    are also differences Bogi Benda has a job. for instance, he is not seen on the football-field,

    and he does not beat his wife

    The type of guy with the cap cast over the eyes, probably also the cigarette respectively the

    flower in their mouths, links Andy Capp with Hoza fiom Zimbabwe (by Hassam Musa,

    McLoughlin 1989:228), Joza from Malawi (by Vie Kasinja, Chimombo 1984:3, 12) and

    Kazibure/Ndumilakuwili of Kenya/Tanzania (by Philip Ndunguru) (Fig 16a-d)

    )

  • 90 ROSE MARIE BECK

    __ za: ___ s __ a_

    Fig 16. Andy Capp (Smythe 1996), Hoza (McLaughlin 1989), Joza (Chimombo

    1985), Profesa Ndumilakuwili (also known as Kazibure) (Ndunguru n.d)

    Hoza and Joza obviously have their roots in the local trickster stories typically featuring

    the hare as the hero Chimombo in his article , The trickster and the media" (1984) explicitely

    draws the parallel between the comic-Joza and the trickster-Joza, comparing the comics to the

    oral stories and finding striking parallels:

    , .. Joza in form and content is not a new but an old manifestation rooted in folklore and

    mythology The medium may have changed but the function, with some modifications,

    due to the contemporary reality, remains the same as in antiquity." (Chimombo 1984:3)

    Now here is what he says about Joza:

    ,Joza s appearance might not have inaugurated a flesh national wave of hero-worship,

    however, it did foster a heightened awareness of a fascination for a (sic!) attraction

    towards the outlaw, the outrageous, or the unpredictable character in society "

    (Chimombo 1984:3) ,He is very much part of the newly created or emerging urbaniti

    es, living by their wits to

    survive the realities of domineering bosses, fast women, alcoholism and heartless

    landlords (Chimombo 1984:11)

    Chimombo's Joza-comic-strips are based as much as the oral-Joza-stories on duplicity

    (ibid.:4), but also show a

    ... minor-image of respectable human society .. reflecting the opposite of the normally

    approved or expected character and behaviour Again, the trickster can be used to

    represent traits or personalities which people both recognize and fear . Further, by

    portraying him in stories, people can show the trickster as himself outwitted and over-

  • COMIC IN SW AHILI OR SW AHILI COMIC?

    reached, often by his own wife .. Again by exagge~ating and caricaturing him to the point

    of absurdity, they in a sense 'tame' him" (Chimombo 1984:7, citing Ruth Finnegan

    1976:352-533)

    And this is what McLoughlin sais about Hassam Musa s figure Hoza:

    ,A scrawny young black Zimbabwean in I -shirt, tattered trousers, bare feet, and

    mushroom-shaped floppy hat down over his eyes, this unemployed wmking-class figure

    is Zimbabwe's longest-serving comic strip character. What he lacks in education, he

    makes up for in smart talk. He has . become a figure of ridicule more given to

    evasion of responsibility than criticism He now looks more like that universal character

    of comic strips .. , the farcical anti-hero struggling against the caprices of accident and

    fate" (McLoughlin 1989: 227-228).

    91

    The description of Joza and Hoza fits the Swahili-speaking Ndumilakuwili!Kazibure

    very well, but also other tricksters-turned-urban-survivors of the Swahili comic scene. Look at

    the following example of Kazibure, complaining about a stomach-ache:

    ICWAOII ULIICULA Nll'll MPAICA UI

  • 92 ROSE MARIE BECK

    tukafunga macho ili tusali 0! Kumbe jamaa hakufi.mga macho. Kwa vile kila mutu alipewa bakuli yake .. Saa ile watu walifunga macho akabadilishabadilisha bakuli apate ile ina chakula kwingi. Tulipofungua macho tukaona bakuli yake imejaa chakula: kuku, nyama, samaki, ndani ya bakuli moja Ejameni! Huo ni ungwana kweli! Lo!"

    ,Kazibure", or as Philip Ndunguru, his creator first called him, ,Ndumilakuwili",

    featured since the 1970s in Tanzanian, later in Kenyan Newspapers

    Ndumilakuwili!Kazibure is probably the best known comic-figure And surely Philip

    Ndunguru, who died in a car accident around 1985, remains to be one of the most influential

    artists 19

    The comic is an important medium that features the m ban smvivor not only in Eastern

    Africa, but also, for instance, in Dakar (Goorgoor'iou by I I Fons 1992, 1993, 1997, Weex

    Dunx by several artists, cf. Joop 1996), or more generally commented on in Mohiss' ,Petits

    jobs et gros boulots" ( 1997). However, the urban smvivor is not restricted to the comic, as has

    already been shown by the example of music. Ropo Sekoni (1994) wrote about him in the

    context ofmodem oral stories from Lagos and Ibadan, stories of fiaud and failure Also fiom

    the Nigerian context are Ken Saro-Wiwa's short stories and tv-plays (1987, 1988) on ,Basi

    and Company" 2 The m ban smvivor therefore constitutes a theme in contemporary m ban

    cultural production, of which the comic is one medium of expression among others.

    Similarities and differences

    The similarities between the trickster and the survivor go further than what Chimombo

    described above .. The invariability of the characters is an instance that has been described for

    the trickster, and is valid for most characters in serial comics as well (eg Donald Duck, Andy

    Capp, Garfield, Superman & Co, Asterix and Obelix, etc.)

    There are many differences, on the other hand The story line in the comic often ends

    abruptly with the 'punch-line', which is not the case in oral trickster stories This change is

    certainly owed to the specifics of the medium of the comic or the genre offimny2 1

    Also owed to the specifics of the genre is the relationship between storyteller and audience

    While for the oral stories this relationship is direct and based on a balance between the

    authority ofthe teller and the interests of the listeners, the artists of comics must rely on letters

    to the editors or on the market for their stories (see Gikonyo 1986 cited above) There are also

    differences of social esteem for oral stories and comics and their producers. The comic mtists

    usually are not able to make a living fiom their art. which exacerbates the difficulties to work

    on comics while at the same time earning an income elsewhere. In addition the comic is not

    very renowned in the society, teachers, for instance, disapprove of them 22 Who exactly buys

    19 Interview, Gado, Nairobi 24th May 1996

    20 Personal communication Thomas Geider. Cologne 26 August 1998

    21 The funny as a genre of comic is closely related to the (mostly oral) joke

    22 Interview Jimmy Irungu. Nairobi 25th May 1996

  • COMIC IN SW AHILI OR SW AHILI COMIC? 93

    the magazines and reads the comics (apart fiom the daily strips appearing in the newspapers) I

    do not have any information about

    Finally I think it worthy to have a closer look at the figure of the trickster respectively the

    urban survivor himself~ leaving out the stories that are actually told

    First, the figures have so called 'speaking names' that sometimes refer to the animal world

    Here some examples:

    Pimbi- the hyrax, Juha Kalulu- the slow/stupid fox, Kingo - ? the opposer (from- kinga

    act as a scieen/protection, fig. contradict, oppose, obstruct, also help), Ndumilakuwili and

    Kazibure - the double-ended snake, the one that bites on both ends23 and futile work, Lodi

    Lofa- Lord Loafer, Kibaka Tunyu- Iunyu, the pickpocket, Njomba Nchumali- Uncle Nail

    (note the Makua accent!), Mzee Kifimbo Cheza - Mister Hitting Stick, and many many

    others

    Second, unlike the trickster, the urban survivor usually does not assemble a fixed group of

    characters around him He operates on his own and does his tricks on various, often nameless

    counterparts, men and women. A typical example is Kazibure (Philip Ndunguru), who has a

    wife and later also a son, who play only an occasional and subordinate role The exception is

    Juha Kalulu (Edward G Gitau) who operates with his dog I aska (a reference to the Kenyan

    beer brand I usker)

    HUU NDIO UJANJA W A BW ANA JUHA KAI. ULU

    Fig 19 Juha Kalulu, his wife (a very rare sight), and Taska, the dog Edward G. Gitau n.d :(I)

    23 actually a kind ofworm with a mimicry-head at the tail Personal communication Thomas Geider. Cologne 26 August 1998

  • 94 ROSE MARIE BECK

    Finally, the most conspicuous and smpiising difference is the anthropomorphism inherent

    in the trickster, but not the m ban smvivm However typical, all the comic-tricksters, all the

    mban smvivors are human figures They have no animal features at all, except sometimes in

    their names With the exception of Juha Kalulu, with his foxy pointed ears (compare Fig

    18) .. Nevertheless, the respective authors use caricature and specific features to stress the

    satirical, tricksterlike character of their figures One example is the cap of Kazibure mentioned

    above Another is the protruding navel on the belly of the figmes fium the pen of John

    Kaduma, for example as in Njomba Nchumali, conspicuous hairstyles and dresses etc

    Fig 20 Njomba Nchumali, John Kaduma (n d .. ):24

    It is wmthwile to have a close look at Njomba Nchumali: His dress and accent reveal his

    Makua-origins .. He is made fun of, at the same time, of being backward and uneducated His

    dress, hairstyle and 'weapon', the protruding navel, his interpretation of writing a letter (very

    interesting as a comment on literacy and semi-literacy) constrast sharply with the urban

    context referred to in the background with the two stylish women passing by 24 The figures

    mentioned in the comic have 'speaking names': Chumuni (Thumni, 50pence), Chukulubu

    (Screwdriver), Njomba Chikania (Uncle Sikania0)2;

    n Bw Tandika fiom the University of Naples suggested that this comic might be a reference to the Renamo-guerilla-fighters who took refuge in Tanzania in the 1980s, but were careful to hide their identity by using nick- and surnames. Naples, I April, 1998

    2; Note also, as in the example of Kazibure (Fig I 0). the elaborate headline, what I would call the equivalent

    to the ,Western' splash-page. These ,.splash-lines' are typical for the urban-survivor-genre and form part of

    the visual code of the Swahili comic

  • KWANI WEWE UMerUATA

    PuNDA ALl ;;AUTI YA PUNDA .. ?!

    COMIC IN SW AHILI OR SW AHILI COMIC')

    Fig. 18 Abunuwasi, Gado 1996

    95

    The comic Abunuwasi (Fig 18) is an exceptional example in the East African context It is

    the first East Afiican album in colour, it features one story (Hekaya za Abunuwasi), one figure

    (Abunuwasi). one artist (Gado, 1996). The artist of the album is the cartoonist Gado, the

    political commentator of the Daily Nation at Nairobi, who with this story shows that he is not

    only capable of drawing cartoons, but also of working out and especially dramatizing a

    complete story Since it is based on a literary version of the stories of Abunuwasi, the Hekaya

    za Abunuwasi (1935) the comic also differs with respect to its setting As a trickster

    Abunuwasi is an exception to the East Afiican continent since he is a person, not an animal

    Abii Nuwas was a contemporary of Harun al Rashid, a wine-companion of his son al-Amln

    (9th century Bagdad) and one of the best known poets of the times (Kennedy 1997:1) As a

    mythical figure he lives through erotic adventures in the I 00 I Nights, but is in apocryphical

    form present as a trickster in folklore throughout the Oriental world (cf Wagner 1977)

  • 96 ROSE MARIE BECK

    Though the intention of the publisher of the comic was to make literature easily accessible for

    children,26 its success is certainly not owed to the intended target-group, but to the

    trickster/urban-survivor context in which the album was understood However, because of the

    literary fixation of the stories (by Chiponde 1915) and the hegemony ofwritten over spoken

    language, Abunuwasi was not much adapted to present Kenyan conditions, but retained much

    of the Arabizing-Coastal Swahili style in the way the houses, dresses and people are

    represented Since the context of Abunuwasi has always been urban, there was no

    transformation from trickster to urban survivor. Furthermore, the aspect of survivor is

    completely missing in the comic27 Even if the success of the album is due to the modem

    comic context, it is not a typical example of the geme of East African urban survivor.. 28

    Instead of a conclusion

    From what I have presented here it is quite obvious that it would be necessary to do thorough

    research on the Swahili comic - which I think is not simply a comic in Swahili - and write a

    challenging and breathtaking book about it I have scarcely been able to scratch the surface,

    stating mme than explaining, presenting and showing more than analyzing

    I await the further development of the East African/Swahili comic scene with personal and

    scientific interest And my respect to the readers and artists, who use the medium dynamically,

    inventing an art form that aesthetically transforms their perception of and experience in

    contemporary urban Eastern Afiica into the medium of comic This is what the comic is all

    about: An exploration of the possibilities of the three-dimensional world in the two-

    dimensional space of ink and paper.

    Bibliographical references

    a) Comics

    Bawji, A.M.M (mhariri) & Cluis Katembo & John Kaduma (wachoraji) n .. d. [ea .. 1995]

    ,Pambano la kick boxing kati ya Zena na Betina", Sani 41:5-8

    Fons .. I I. 1992 Goorgoorlou et Serigne Maramokho Guissane I I Fons (scenario,

    artwork), Odia (colouring), Alphonse Mendy (conception) Dakar: Atelier Fons

    26 The editor of Sasa Sema Publications in her speech at the official reception of the comic, Nairobi, 24 May

    1996

    27 Gado has adapted three stories from the Hekaya: the donkey's cry betraying Abunuwasi, the pot that bears

    offspring, and the beggar eating the smell of the rich man's feast Interestingly these first two stories are cited

    by Ewald Wagner, a German orientalist, as the most widely spread stories known to feature Abu Nuwas or in

    Turkey Hodsha Nasreddin (Wagner 1975:47)

    28 Under the patronage of Gado as well as the publishing company Sasa sema. with whom Abunuwasi came

    out as a great succes, a number of other albums, also in colour have appeared, ex. Karani & Kham [Kamawira]1997, TUF 1998 The style of the drawings. is clearly reminiscent ofGado The stories however

    are much closer to the theme of urban survivor

  • COMIC IN SW AHILI OR SW AHILI COMIC? 97

    Fons. LT 1994 1993, l'annee Goorgoorlou with I I Fons (scenario, mtwmk), Odia

    (coloming), Alphonse Mendy (conception). Dakar: Atelier Fons.

    Fons, LT 1997 Goorgoorlou La fin du PAS (Programme d'Ajustement Structure/), with

    Alphonse Mendy (conception & colours) Dakar: Atelier Fons.

    Gado [Godfiey Mwampembwa]1996 Hekaya za Abunuwasi .. Nairobi: Sasa sema

    Gayo, .lames 1994. ,Nyumba ndogo", Kingo 003 (Agosti-Septemba): 4-9

    Gayo, .lames 1997 ,Sasa ni vituko", Kingo 7 (Machi): 4-7.

    Gitau, Edwmd Gicheri n..d. [ea 1979] Visa na vituko rya mwaka yya Juha Kalulu Nairobi:

    Nation Group

    loop [Mamadou Diop] 1996 Weex Dunx La victime en vedel!e Receuil de.s aventures d'un

    anti-her os No. 1 Dakar: Sogedit [collection of weekly strips featuring Weex Dunx that

    appemed in Cafiud Liben:!. Produced by Atelier Cafiud: Mamadou Diop (editm), Mbaye

    Toure, 0 Dia, I I Fons .. Arona Kante, Sada Iraore, Pape Samba Kane]

    Kaduma, John n .. d. Njomba Nchumali, Bongo 002:24.

    Karani, Ruth Wairimu (mtungaji) & Kham [lames Kamawira] 1997. Macho ya m;i Nairobi:

    Sasa Sema

    Katti-ka-Batembo 1988. A[ro A2 Mzungu wa kula - Hajimdishwi mwana 1 Dar es

    Salaam/Morogoro: Drumbeats Comigraphics

    Likonde, H. (michoro) & Dr K. Fieischer (hadithi) ]992 Mitego ya Anasa. Ajali ya BM Pande I anzania: Ndanda Mission Press

    Mohiss n .d [ea 1994] without title Postcard

    Mohiss 1997 Petits ;obs et gr6s bou/6ts Dakm

    Mpangalla. Nathan (michoro) & Julius Mhilu (hadithi) 1994 ... Kula kama vinalika', Kingo

    003 (Agosti-Septemba): 11-15

    Ndungmu .. Philip 1986 Kazibure I Nairobi: Kenya I imes.

    Odoi .. Frank 1996. ,.Haki ifanyike''. Kingo 7: 18-23

    Oswaggo. RR. n .. d [mid 1980s]. Madenge Kitabu cha 3 n.p [Nairobi]

    Paul Ndunguru 1994 .. ,Binti wa usiku"', Kingo 001: 10-15

    Smythe, Reggie 1996. ,Andy Capp", The Standard (Nairobi), 14 May 1996. (M.G N,

    distributed by syndication, International North America Syndicate !ne )

    IUF [Samuel Mulokwa Masawi]1998 Manywe/e. Nairobi: Sasa Sema

    I umusiime, .lames n.d Bogi Benda [Dares Salaam]: Tanzania Standmd

    Yongolo .. Nciah 1994 ,.Kajihukumu', Burudani (Oktoba): 7

  • 98 ROSE MARIE BECK

    b) Discography

    Fundi Ugali !Ill AmbiraBoys Band .. FWD I (Isavo Records) P 1987 (Sylvester Odhiambo)

    c) Literature

    Abbott, Lawrence L 1986.. ,Comic mt: Chmacteristics and potentialities of a nanative

    medium", Journal of Popular Culture 19,4: 155-176

    Alessandrini, Marjorie, et al. (ed.) 1979 Encyclopedie des bandes dessinees Paris: Albin

    Michel

    Baetens, Jan & Pascal Lefevre 1993.. Pour une lecture moderne de la bande dessinee.

    Brussels: Centre Beige de la Bande Dessinee (CBBD)

    Barbieri, Daniele 1991 .. I linguaggi delfumetto Milano: Bompiani.

    Beaugrande, Robert-Alain de & Wolfgang Ulrich Dressier 1981 Einfuhrung in die

    Textlinguistik. I i.ibingen: Niemeyer

    Beck, Rose-Marie 1994 ,Der Ubeilebenskiinstler: Comics und Musik aus Nairobi'' Paper

    presented at the Afrikanistentag, 19-21 Sept 1994, Cologne

    Chimombo .. Steve 1984. , The trickster and the media", Baraza (A Journal of the Arts in

    Malawi, Chancellor College, Zomba) 2: 3-21

    Drechsel, Wiltrud Ulrike, Jorg Funhoff & Michael Hoffinann 1975. Massenzeichenware Zur

    gesel/schafilichen und ideol9gischen Funktion der Comics .. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

    Eisner, Will 1985 Comics and sequential art. I a!llaJac: Poorhouse Press

    Eisner. Will 1996. Graphic storytelling. Tamarac: Poorhouse Press

    Epskamp .. Kees 1984 ,Cwss-cultural interpretation of cartoons and drawings", Media Asia

    11,4:208-214

    Faust Wolfgang Max 1971 ,Comics and how to read them'', Journal of Popular Culture 5,1:

    195-202

    Fuchs, Wolfgang J & Reinhold C. Reitberger 1971 Comics Anatomie eines Massenmediums

    Mi.inchen: Heinz Moos

    Frederiksen, Bodil Folke 1991 ,Joe, the sweetest reading in Africa: Documentation and

    discussion of a popular magazine in Kenya'", Aft ican Languages and Culture 4, 2: 135-

    155'

    Gikonyo, Waithira 1986.. ,Comics and comic strips in the mass media in Kenya", in Comics

    and visual culture Research studies from ten countries, ed .. by Alphons Silbermann &

    H -D Dyroff Mi.inchen: K.G. Saur pp 185-195

    Graebner.. Wemer 1995 ,Mambo - Moderne I extformen und rezente Sprachentwicklung in

    Dares Salaam'', in Swahili-Handbuch, hg v Gudrun Miehe & Wilhelm Mohlig Koln:

    Ri.idiger Koppe S 263-277

  • COMIC IN SW AHIU OR SW AHILI COMIC? 99

    Grlinewald, Dietrich 1991 ,Bildgeschichte/Comic: Ziihes Ringen urn kulturelle Akzeptanz

    Zur Notwendigkeit iisthetischer Bildung", in Medien und Kultur Beitrtige zu einem

    interdisziplintiren Symposium der Universittit Luneburg, ed by Werner Faulstich.

    (=Zeitschrift fUr Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, Beiheft 16). Giittingen:

    Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht Pp 101-108

    Harvey, Robert C. 1996 !he art of the comic book An aesthetic history. Jackson: University

    of Mississippi

    Havas, Harald, A & Gerhard Habarta 1993. Comic We/ten Geschichte und Struktur der

    Neunten Kunst Wien: Edition Comic Forum

    Hekaya za Abunuwasi na hadithi nyingine. 1935 .. London: Macmillan (1915 by Samwel

    Chiponde, Zanzibar)

    Hofinann, Werner 1970. ,Zu kunsthistorischen Problemen der Comic Stiips", in Vom Geist

    der Superhelden Comic Strips Colloquium zur Iheorie der Bildergeschichten in der

    Akademie der Kiinste Berlin, ed .. by H.D Zimmermann Berlin: Gebriider Mann. Pp 47-

    61.

    Kagelmann, Jiirgen 1991 ,Einige Bemerkungen zum Stand der Comic-F01schung 1m

    deutschsprachigen Raum", in Comics zwischen Le se- und Bildkultur, ed.. by B

    Franzmann, I Herrmann, H J Kagelmann & R. Zitzlsperger (=Comics Anno 2)

    Miinchen: Profil Pp. 47-59

    Kennedy Philip F 1997 !he wine song in classical Arabic poetry Abu Nuwas and the

    literary tradition. Oxford: Clarendon

    Knigge, Andreas C 1996 Comics Vom Massenblatt ins multimediale Abenteuer Reinbek:

    Rowohlt

    Krafft, Ulrich 1978 Comics lesen Untersuchungen zur Iextualitdt von Comics. Stuttgart:

    Klett-Cotta. (transl. 1982 Manuale di lettura dei fumetti. Roma: ERI)

    Lent. J A (ed.) 1996 Comic art in Africa Asia, Australia and Latin America A

    comprehensive international bibliography. Bibliography of Indexes in Popular Culture,

    7. Westport CI & London: Greenwood Press

    L udwig. Heinz 1978 .. ,Zur Handlungsstruktur von Comics und Miirchen. Fabula 19 . .3-4:

    262-286

    McCloud, Scott 1993 Understanding comics !he invisible art.. Northampton MA: Kitchen

    Sink Press

    McLoughlin, I 0. 1989 ''Reading Zimbabwean comic strips", Research in African

    Literatures20,2: 217-241

    Peeters. Benoit 1993. La bande dessim!e Paris: Flammarion

    Saro-Wiwa, Ken 1987 Basi and company A modern African folktale Port Harcourt/Ewell:

    Saros.

    Saro-Wiwa, Ken 1988 Basi and company Four television plays Port Harcourt/Ewell: Saros

  • 100 ROSE MARIE BECK

    Sekoni, Ropo 1994. Folk poetics A socio-semiotic study of Yoruba trick*r tales

    Westpmt/London: Greenwood

    Stwbel, Ricarda 1993. , I ext und Bild im Comic", in Bild und Text im Dialog, ed by Klaus

    Dirscherl Passau: Wissenschaftsveilag Rathe Pp. 377-395

    Wagner, Ewald 1977. ,Abil Nuwas", in Enzyklopddie des Mdrchens, Handworterbuch zur

    historischen und vergleichenden Erzahlforschung, Vol I , ed by Kurt Ranke et al

    Berlin!New Ymk: de Gruyter Pp 43-47

    Zehnder, Frank Giinter 1996 Wow! 100 Jahre Comics Die Originale (Exhibition catalogue)

    Koln: Rheinland-Verlag

    Bibliographic appendix: Addenda to Lent 1996- Comic art in Africa

    Bender, Wolfgang (ed) 1991. Cheri Samba .. Miinchen: Trickster

    Chbi Samba Le paintre populaire du Zaire 1990 .. Exposition retrospective. Ostende:

    Provinciaal Museum voor Modeme Kunst

    Chimombo, Steve 1984 , The trickster and the media", Baraza (A Journal of the Arts in

    Malawi, Chancellm College, Zomba) 2: 3-21

    Chimombo, Steve 1986 , The dupe in a modem context', Baraza (A Journal of the Arts in

    Malawi, Chancellor College, Zomba) 3: 48-67

    Clnetien, Jean Pierre (ed.), Jean-Fran

  • COMIC IN SW AHILI OR SW AHILI COMIC~ 101

    Jewsiewicki, Bogumil 1995 Cheri Samba The hybridity of art L hybridite dun art. (Contempmary Afiican Artists series, l) Westmount (Quebec): Galerie Amrad Afiican Art Publications

    Kihm, Alain & Jean-Louis Rouge 1988 ,,'Les trois irn!parables' de Fernando Julio Comment et edition critique dune bande dessinee en kriol (Guiriee-Bissau)", Cahiers du LACITO 3: 121-177

    Mbangwana, Paul 1993. ,Some instances of linguistic and literary resource in certain humorous Cameroonianisms", Humor 6-2: 195-222

    Mbembe, Achille 1996. ,La 'chose' et ses doubles dans la caricature camerounaise", Cahien d'Etudes africaines 141-142,36-1-2:143-170

    Mbembe .. Achille 1997 .. , I he 'Thing' and its doubles in Cameroonian cartoons", in Readings in Popular Culture, ed by Karin Barber. Bloomington/Indianapolis/Oxford: Indiana University Press/ J ames Currey Pp .. 151-163

    Mcloughlin.. I .0 1989 "Reading Zimbabwean comic strips", Research in Ajhcan Literatures 20,2: 217-241